From Mike Asquini, PMP, CMRP
LSSBB, RMP, Senior Manager
T.A. Cook (tacook.com)
Shutdown, turnaround, and outage (STO) events are complex undertakings for which organizations may spend between 12 and 36 months to prepare. The targets for these types of events include cost, duration, safety, and quality. Team alignment is a critical factor in achieving these goals. According to Mike Asquini of T.A. Cook, without team alignment, it’s impossible to achieve the results that the organization is expecting. He offers the following advice.
Team alignment is a measure of how well the members of a team share common goals and targets to achieve the desired results. The ability to meet goals and targets increases with greater team alignment as tasks are divided amongst the team members to be completed on time and with a high quality. Excellent team alignment results in increased performance through better communication and coordination within the team. The team has a common understanding of what needs to get done by whom and when. Higher morale within the team leads to trust, a collaborative effort among team members, and transparency between members. All of these benefits of team alignment result in better performance and efficiency in reaching the organizational goals and targets that are set for the event.
“Team alignment starts with proper
guidance from leadership.”
Team alignment starts with proper guidance from leadership. Key team members must understand how the STO event aligns with the organization’s goals, market pressures, and operating environment. Leadership must provide time and be appropriately engaged to ensure that key event personnel understand this context. It is up to event leadership to ensure that they lead the team effectively and efficiently with transparency so that the team can perform to meet targets and be well aligned throughout the event. With proper leadership guidance, key team personnel are much better prepared to define the goals and scope of the event and they will know that these goals are aligned with senior leadership.
One of the key drivers to the successful execution of an STO happens very early in the preparation process: scope control. Scope control is an ongoing concern from cradle to grave for each event. Getting the scope for an event correct directly affects the cost and duration, two of the most important targets that the organization’s bottom line. Excellent team alignment is key to achieving the two key elements behind scope control.
“Excellent team alignment is key to
achieving the two key elements
behind scope control.”
The first thing the team must align on to get the scope right is the event’s objectives. Alignment starts with having the correct roles create the objectives document. These individuals then must clearly communicate the objectives to all stakeholders that may suggest scope for inclusion in the event. If a proposed piece of work falls outside the objectives, it must be denied. Denial is not saying that the work will not be done; it just means it will not be done during this specific event. This must be communicated to the requester to keep them aligned to the process. For example, it may be that the work can best be accomplished at a more appropriate time or a cost that the event team should incur. If this determination is not communicated to the requester with proper follow-up, we put team alignment at risk. Communication is necessary here to preserve the alignment that has been achieved.
The second item the team must align on to control scope is the methodology to get the scope changed and, accordingly, control scope growth. The team must clearly define the parameters and process to submit change requests and hold people accountable for following that process completely. The alignment techniques used here are communication and training. To properly submit a change request, team members and non-team members must be introduced to and trained on the process for submitting a change request.
The achievement of team alignment is not easy. It requires patience and effort by everyone involved with an STO event. As demonstrated by this discussion of scope control in an event, it is a key enabler to meet goals and targets. Team alignment enables the team to be successful and supports the organization in meeting its goals.